Remember to pause and admire your work

Our gardening lives have been hectic recently; planting, sowing, mowing, watering, weeding and hoeing.

By Tom Pattinson
Monday, 28th June 2021, 2:55 pm
Updated Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 10:40 am
A strategically placed seat aims to encourage the garden visitor to sit and admire the view. Picture by Tom Pattinson
A strategically placed seat aims to encourage the garden visitor to sit and admire the view. Picture by Tom Pattinson

So, this fellow feels that it’s time to factor in a clear blue-sky moment; stop planting, admire, and reflect on what has been achieved so far.

Toward this end, we do have seats strategically placed throughout the garden that encourage contemplation.

There are timber benches, a stone seat and metal chairs and table but there are also natural features that encourage impromptu breaks as we wander, refreshment in hand. The low, drystone wall, and a short flight of steps leading to a pathway and garden overview. Nothing fancy, just somewhere to sit and admire.

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Always a seat in sight. Picture by Tom Pattinson

Management of gardening time is essential because many of us have other interests in our lives, and this can be governed by the size and nature of the plot we tend. If your cultivating interests are diverse, as this fellow’s are, maintaining a balance in attending to varying plant demands is the key to high summer enjoyment.

For example, the greenhouse is visited at least twice daily. Automatic side and overhead ventilators maintain a steady flow of air throughout and reduce the temperature.

We slide the door open early am to increase air exchange, and a mesh screen with magnetic fasteners prevents insect and bird entrance.

On hot days, the flagged floor receives cans of water to reduce temperature and increase humidity. Then we check the plants within!

The grape vines are bristling with immature bunches demanding food and water so, removing side shoots that would rob them of such is a priority. A tomato crop is watered twice daily in this current heat and fed once a week. A peach tree, cucumbers, peppers and assorted ornamental plants need the once-over too.

Outdoors, the fruit trees and bushes are carrying crops at various stages of development. They were originally fed, mulched and pruned where necessary, therefore make few demands on time other than occasional watering to encourage the swelling of produce, and regular harvesting. The strawberry patch is netted and picking started a few days ago.

Vegetable gardens and weeds are inseparable, and unfortunately apart from harbouring garden pests, the latter compete for available water and food.

Annual ephemeral types such as chickweed are constantly springing up and producing seed, therefore, hand weeding and hoeing, little and often, is required.

Wildlife provide magical moments

Watering becomes an unavoidable, time-consuming, daily summer chore as edible and ornamental plants lose moisture rapidly under the hot sun.

Any attempt to rectify that by use of a can or hose in the middle of the day will result in considerable loss via evaporation.

So, I water thoroughly in the evening, allowing plants to recharge overnight and increase their chance of survival.

Thank goodness the lawns are not as demanding. In deciding what lawn type we’d like, the amount of maintenance required was taken into consideration. This ruled the bowling green standard out as too time-consuming. We chose to go for character and wildlife attraction and there are no regrets. They look tidy enough and are cut once a week with a battery-operated push-mower that holds half-an-hour of energy. So, there’s no loitering and I feel fitter for the experience.

Early morning and late evening are such brilliant times to walk around the garden. Whether it be dew-laden or moist evening air, it accentuates plant fragrances.

Honeysuckle, lilac, roses, garden pinks, etc all excelled post-10pm on midsummer evening, in almost broad daylight, and this continues.

Every evening the song thrush runs through its melodic repertoire from a nearby tree and the resident hedgehog is out foraging. He/she is the gardeners’ friend, on pest patrol 24-7. So, understand the alarm at seeing it perched on the edge of, and gazing intently into our natural pool, early one morning.

Thirsty? Or admiring the wildlife within? Who knows? We do provide water in a shallow vessel on the lawn. As I prepared to scoop our prickly friend out with both hands, it decided to turn and walk away, completely unaware of the drama caused. Such magical moments are not to be missed!